What a lovely sail!
We set off from Preveza in the morning of Wednesday, Oct 2nd, motoring through the calm. By lunchtime the northerly wind had arrived and we were close-hauled on starboard making over 7kts. The seas were moderate, the sky blue, and some dolphins joined us for a little while.
The wind increased through the day so that we had 2 reefs in for the 25kts by the end of the day. Through the night we kept the reefs, though the wind did drop to 15kt or so. But still, we made 140 nautical miles in the first 24 hours. That put us halfway.
Towards the end of the next day, Thursday, the wind, as expected disappeared. For a few hours we were again motoring, wondering when, and from what direction, it would return. We tried to watch a movie in the evening – only to be constantly interrupted by our wind-shift alarm as the fickle light airs danced around all directions of the compass.
No matter. By midnight the wind was back with a vengeance. Over 20kts again from the north. A quick double reef put in, and we where chomping our way to Syracuse again. We always over-reef at night just to be on the cautious side – and if the wind drops we rarely shake it out either. We prefer to go a bit slower than to have to keep waking the other one up to do a reef change in the dark.
This morning we arrived. 50.5 hours after our departure (2 hours better than our trip the other way) for an average of speed of 5.6 kt including 18 hours of engine time. Bear in mind that when we are motoring, we travel at only about 4 kts. so it does cut down our average.
At one point, in fact, we were barely making 3kts towards our destination. Why was that?
The wind had dropped to about 7-10kts true and turned right on our nose.That is the most frustrating of conditions, here’s why: We have three options:
- We can sail. But since it is now a beat, we have to tack. At 12kts of wind (apparent), we make maybe 4 kts through the water, giving us a VMG (velocity made good into the wind) of under 2 kts.
- We can motor straight into the wind. But, again, we have 12kts of wind apparent right on our nose. With just the one engine on, which is what we normally cruise with, our speed drops down to maybe 2.5kt
- We can motor sail – ie we tack, but assist the sails with the motor, giving us maybe 5.5 kts through the water – and a VMG of maybe 3kts.
So frustrating, as whichever way you cut it, it is slow. With less wind we would just motor straight into the wind and make better speed. With more wind, we sail, go faster, and make better speed. We had maybe 6 hours of this, so it rather cuts down your average.
Anyway, here we are back in Syracuse. And the good news is that our internet still works! Another month still pre-paid from when we bought it in Sardinia.